Remember last week when we talked about cognitive distortions? Well, this week, we’re going to talk about how to dispute them.
The first step in disputing cognitive distortions is recognizing that they’re occurring. No worries – this takes practice.
Next, there are a few steps that you can take to help dispute your cognitive distortions. Here are four ways that I teach my clients to dispute their distortions:
- Talk to yourself like you would a friend. Do you speak harshly to your friends when they have cognitive distortions? If the answer is no, then don’t talk to yourself that way either.
- Live in the gray. Life is not black and white. You need to be able to live in that (often uncomfortable) gray area where things aren’t either/or.
- Define your terms. Are you calling yourself an “idiot” or “inferior”? Look up the actual definitions of these words. Note that most are describing behaviors, not an actual person.
- Examine the evidence. What evidence, if any, do you have for your cognitive distortion? If you’re particularly hard on yourself, think about times you were successful. This is a great dispute!
Please note that all of this takes time. You’re not going to magically challenge every negative thought that you have. Hell, even I can’t do that and I do this for a living! Newsflash: we’re human.
You know what else? Sometimes, disputing our negative thoughts won’t make them go away. I still get distorted thoughts, and sometimes I am able to successfully challenge them and other times I’m not. Sometimes you need to run through your tool box to switch negative thoughts off, and that’s okay. Keep trying, sunshine. It will come eventually.